President Trump “said things which were hate-filled, vile and racist. … I cannot believe … any president has ever spoken the words that I … heard our president speak yesterday.” So wailed Sen. Dick Durbin after departing the White House.
And what caused the minority leader to almost faint dead away?
Trump called Haiti a “s—hole country,” said Durbin, and then asked why we don’t have more immigrants from neat places “like Norway.” With that, there erupted one of the great media firestorms of the Trump era. On Martin Luther King Day, it was still blazing.
Trump concedes he may have disparaged Haiti, which, at last check, was not listed among “Best Places to Live” in the Western Hemisphere. Yet Trump insists he did not demean the Haitian people.
Still, by contrasting Norway as a desirable source of immigrants, as opposed to Haiti, El Salvador and Africa, Trump tabled a question that is roiling the West, the answer to which will decide its fate.
Trump is saying with words, as he has with policies, that in taking in a million people a year, race, religion and national origin matter, if we are to preserve our national unity and national character.
Moreover, on deciding who comes, and who does not, Americans have the sovereign right to discriminate in favor of some continents, countries and cultures, and against others.
Moreover, in stating his own preferences, Trump is in a tradition as old as the Republic.